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VOIP

VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol so in effect is it just a way to send analogue voice files over the internet. VoIP provides cheap and easy to use business phone services.One of the reasons it's so much cheaper is you bypass the call charges because it's run over your internet. With VoIP you usually pay a small set up cost and then a monthly amount for your number, so no call charges which can make a hug difference if your business operates internationally. In general VoIP will dramatically reduce your usual telecoms costs and can give you a superior service in comparison with traditional telephone systems.You usually have two options with business VoIP packages:

  • Hosted VoIP - This is particularly good for small businesses, because it means your provider will maintain all equipment in their data centre. This means you don't have any expensive hardware to buy and it keeps it all secure and safe for you.
  • Physical VoIP Switchboard - This type of VoIP service involves installing a switchboard into your premises and planning your own disaster recovery and security. Physical switchboards cost money to buy and maintain so will usually mean more upfront costs.

Whatever package you decide is right for you, the other key benefits of VoIP are the added extras you can get. Some examples of the extras are the ability to block withheld numbers, transfer calls straight to your voicemail, video conferencing, ring back, three way calls and much more. VoIP can form an important part of your disaster recovery plan. Because you can redirect calls at will, you can keep on using the same numbers, even if there’s a disaster which puts your company HQ out of action. All you need is an alternative location with an internet connection.

What is VoIP?

VoIP simply stands for Voice over IP. Some of you might be thinking “What on earth does IP mean?” Luckily for you, I’m about to explain. All it stands for is Internet protocol. Internet protocol is just a media transport system that commonly runs over normal IP address. This means you can run a telephone service over an internet connection. To receive and make VoIP calls you’ll have to have a VoIP modem at each end. A VoIP modem converts an analog signal to digital signal and back again. Once a phone call is made the analogue signal gets sent to the VoIP modem, the VoIP modem then turns these analogue signals into digital packets that get send over the internet to the receiving VoIP modem. Finally, the receiving VoIP modem turns these digital packets back into analog signals and the analog signals get send to the receiving phone. It does sound long and tedious, but it is done so quickly and seamlessly that you won’t even notice what’s happening.

There are two different types of VoIP and these are Hosted VoIP systems and Self-hosted VoIP systems. Hosted VoIP simply means that a provider will deal with the installation and maintenance of the VoIP system. This is normally one of the favourite types of VoIP as you don’t have to do anything in terms of the setup of the VoIP, which is a great time saver. Self-hosted VoIP is not for the faint hearted. It requires a lot of domain expertise in VoIP technology, but if you’re an expert in VoIP technologies then this should be easy for you. Of course, you’d have to install and host the VoIP system yourself (the clue is in the name funnily enough). You’ll also have to do all the maintenance for the VoIP system yourself, so this could take up a lot of time, unless you have someone employed who specifically deals with VoIP. Choosing between the two depends on your needs and expertise. Most companies will choose Hosted VoIP, but if you’re up for a challenge Self-hosted VoIP is the one for you.

How much does VoIP cost?

VoIP can start as low as £10 per channel per calendar month. This obviously varies from provider to provider & depends on what features you need. But regardless it is still much cheaper then a ISDN line. In most packages the amount you pay will also include a certain number of minutes, but if you go over the set number of minutes then it will only cost you a few pence per minute, but once again this does depend of the providers package terms. Some VoIP providers might charge 2p a minute and some might charge 5p, it just depends on the provider preference. One upside of VoIP is that you can make free calls to other VoIP users all over the world. Whether you’re sending a call to India or Australia, it is free as long as they have a VoIP system on the other end. This would be extremely helpful if your company has offices in different countries.

The majority of VoIP providers will also offer free and impartial advice with regards to fixing your VoIP system. Most of them are 24/7 so whenever you need help they will always be there. So all you'd need to do is ring up, explain what’s wrong, and they should be able to sort out your problem in no time at all.

A self-hosted VoIP system can cost more than the traditional hosted system. This is because with the Self-hosted system you’ll have to source all the equipment and keep up on maintenance yourself. This is one of the reasons most company will opt for the hosted service, another reason is because it is overall easier to manage, and some company won’t have a really tech savvy person to set up and maintain a self-hosted VoIP system. But if you do have the budget and resources to implement a self-hosted VoIP system then you shouldn’t have any problems.

Benefits of VoIP

VoIP systems have many benefits. One of the main one is that compared to traditional phone systems, it is extremely cheap. For a traditional system you’d have to acquire quite a few bits of kit to get started. You’d need a phone line, a phone system, a phone maintenance contract, and costly software upgrades. Along with this there are other disadvantages to traditional phone systems, such as additional relocation costs, hardware maintenance costs, and you could also still be charged for internal calls. With a VoIP system all these costly extras can be avoided. Another benefit that relates to my last point is that VoIP systems have free internal calls! So, you can call anyone in your company free of cost. As well as providing free internal calls, most VoIP providers allow you to call anyone in the work free of charge. This would be extremely cost effective and helpful for companies that have offices in other countries. One click of a button and you’re talking to someone in the USA, and the best bit its free!

VoIP is also ideal for remote or offsite workers. This is because to use a VoIP softphone all you'd need to do is download the software onto a device (such as a phone or tablet), connect to the internet and you’re flying! You can make calls anywhere and everywhere (bearing in mind you will need some sort of internet connection). This also means you can work from home with ease because if you have a softphone application on your device then it can be accessed.

Multi-functional is also a word that is associated with VoIP systems. Apart from making phone calls, you can also use VoIP to make video calls. As more businesses are leaning towards video conferencing this can be a great advantage and save thousands on travelling to meetings across the country. Skype is a well-known example of VoIP software that has helped make video conferencing accessible for businesses.

Another benefit of VoIP is that it will always be working as all you need is an internet connection. With traditional phone systems there is the possibility that something could happen to the phone lines, whether this is because of extreme weather or other unforeseen circumstances. But with VoIP you wouldn’t have to worry about these possibilities.

Should you ever move premises, VoIP phone is extremely easy compared to traditional lines. There is no need to change your phone number, which saves costs on all marketing information and means no changes are needed on your company website. With traditional phone systems you can’t just get up and go and take everything with you. You’d need to change your number amongst other things, this would take time and effort. But luckily with VoIP you’d never have to worry about changing your number again! Also, if you need to increase/decrease the amount of lines you need then it is simple and quick to do. So if a new employee comes you can quickly add a new line or remove one if an employee leaves. With traditional phone lines once they’re installed that’s it. If you don’t use them you'll be wasting money on an extra line for no reason. But with VoIP you wouldn’t need to worry about that.

VoIP quotes

Before getting your VoIP quotes you must make sure you have a stable internet connection. If you have an unstable internet connection then you must get it sorted before implementing your VoIP system. If you did get a VoIP system whilst having poor internet connection then this would not be ideal. The main reason for this is that your calls will constantly cut out, which would obviously be extremely annoying, and it could also lose your business if you’re unable to make/receive phone calls. So if you are thinking about getting a VoIP system but have unstable internet then there are a few things you can do. You can either speak to your current internet provider and see if they can do anything to make your internet better, or you could look elsewhere yourself. The best type of internet to run a VoIP system on is a Leased Line. Leased Lines are uncontended fibre lines that go straight from the exchange to your premises. This means you’re the only person using the line and it won’t cut out as it is coming directly from the exchange point. It has a one-to- one contention unlike broadband who can anything from a 50/1 contention or 100/1 contention. With broadband you’d be sharing the connection with other people in your area. You could also use a business grade internet, but a leased line would be ideal. So, after reading this if you’re thinking “a leased line would benefit my business” then look no further! We compare the top 15 leased line providers, so don’t hesitate to run a comparison if you’re considering it.

There are a few details that you’ll need to give because the comparison can be run. These are postcode and address, contact number, full name, company name, and email. The providers will need your postcode and address so they can give you the most accurate quotes possible. If you didn’t provide your postcode and address then you wouldn’t get the most accurate quotes possible. Lastly, they need your contact details (number, full name, company name, and email) so they can contact you to give you your quotes. Without these, obviously, they wouldn’t be able to contact you.